The Transport Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed the first of the new Hitachi electric trains to Scotland yesterday.
There will eventually be 70 of these and they will be used from autumn 2017 on the Edinburgh to Queen Street service. In two years’ time there will be more than 40 per cent extra seats on the line at peak times. The new trains promise more power points at seats, better WiFi and improved accessibility.
Scotrail is investing almost half a billion pounds in new trains and this is being supported by investment of £1.5 billion in track infrastructure in the central belt, Aberdeen-Inverness and the Highland Main Line.
Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said: “I am delighted that the new trains will shortly begin testing in Scotland and note the hard work in such a short space of time that has gone into their design and construction.
“The Scottish Government has committed £5 billion to upgrade rail travel in Scotland and I will continue to push for better standards and facilities for passengers to be delivered. I have no doubt that once they go into service the extra space and seats will transform the experience of users and help to continue to build upon the success of ScotRail services across the country.”
These have not been the most comfortable times for Scotrail which is run by Dutch company Abellio. Customers have been very vocal about its shortcomings over recent weeks and months with complaints about the number of trains which have been late or cancelled on the increase.
The company’s Managing Director Dominic Booth is keen to keep the public on side. He said: “Our team at the ScotRail Alliance is currently focused on improving the railway for passengers during one of the most intense periods of investment and modernisation ever undertaken on Scotland’s railway. It is inevitable during this time that there will be some disruption and we ask for people’s patience as we work through these ambitious plans.
“However, next year we will take delivery of new trains that are being designed, built and delivered in record time. Since we took over the franchise, we have added 25,000 seats a day to the Scottish network and by 2019, that number will be 100,000. We expect the £475 million investment in new and refurbished trains to provide a significantly better experience for passengers.”